Carlos Tejada (class of 1995) had an outsize impact on journalism. As a high-level editor at The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, Carlos’s work shaped how the world came to understand the rising influence of China. His life was tragically cut short on Dec. 17, 2021. In his memory, a scholarship is being established in Carlos’s name, to be awarded each year to students in the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Particular preference will go to those interested in international studies or reporting on Asian regions. Carlos was the kind of editor every reporter wanted to work for. His laugh was infectious, the kind that rang out from the office of the Daily Kansan to Beijing bureaus and newsrooms in Hong Kong and Seoul where he worked later in his career.“Reporters who worked with Carlos at both the Times and the Journal knew that we were the lucky ones to have an editor as intelligent, knowledgeable and fair-minded as he was,” said Li Yuan, a columnist at the Times. “He was the first editor who really saw me. … He gave me the courage to ask to do reporting.”
Carlos’s work helped The Times earn a Pulitzer Prize in 2021 for its coverage of the Covid-19 crisis, editing an article about how China had censored online news and opinion about the coronavirus early in the pandemic. Carlos was also part of an editing team on a series of articles, about China’s repression of Uyghur Muslims, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer in international reporting in 2020.
“For me he became a personification of the institution of journalism itself. Ever cautious and committed, he was unstinting in his passion to hold power to account, and to do so with a credibility that demanded to be heard,” said Paul Mozur, Asia technology correspondent for The Times who also worked with Carlos at The Journal.
After graduating from Kansas, Carlos was hired by The Wall Street Journal as a reporter in Dallas, where he covered real estate and other subjects. He and his wife, Nora, later moved to Asia for The Journal, where he worked in Hong Kong and later Beijing. The Times hired him in 2016, where he most recently served as deputy Asia editor.
Carlos was captivated by Asia, his home for more than a decade. He was dedicated to understanding China, both its joys and its frustrations. He wanted the world to understand the nuance and the complexity of a country too often described with a broad, authoritarian brush, while also ensuring its government was held to account.
He was a champion of reporters and their stories, ready to help anyone. In his heart, he was a teacher, patient and kind, always willing to give of his time. He didn’t want credit. He didn’t want bylines. He simply wanted others to learn, to share the craft of journalism that he loved, to ensure that the next generation had the skills and the passion that he did. He had a joy for journalism, and he wanted to share it.
Your support of the Carlos Tejada Scholarship will honor his dedication and service while making a substantial impact on the lives of journalists and understanding of Asia for years to come.
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"Carlos was the true face of the mantra, “Edit ferociously and with joy.” He reverberated with an energy that made me think he knew a secret that many people take a lifetime to figure out." – Yonette Joseph, International News Editor, The New York Times